It wasn't your typical fight.
Both fighters tensed and then came at each other quickly. The larger of the two swung a clumsy roundhouse, easily ducked under by his smaller opponent. The girl, a slim blonde with a young face but with old eyes, kicked out and hit a leg buckling it. She rolled away from her attacker and quickly came to her feet only to find her opponent coming towards her again. Feinting a ducking move she met his rush and flipped him before he could stop. He landed hard and the breath rushed out of his lungs in an audible whoosh. A hand reached into her back pocket and brought out a 'stake' which thumped effortlessly into the attackers chest.
"This is not fun!"
Xander Harris was doing two things at the moment. The first was listing the amount and position of the bruises that he had received in the last half hour including the five overlapping ones on his chest. The second was following the path of the really interesting crack in the plaster in the ceiling. That crack was really one hell of a crack, probably left over from some high intensity Slayage. If the training went on for much longer he'd probably be able to remember it for the rest of his life.
Xander's train of thought was interrupted as a hand grabbed him by the front of his tracksuit and lifted him effortlessly from his comfy imprint on the training mat.
"Is the Buffster ready to lay off the Xander bashing for the moment. At least until the current pain level drops below the throbbing agony stage?"
"I-I-it's all right Buffy, I think thats enough training for tonight. In fact I think I should be able to recommence training you myself tomorrow night."
The Slayer looked to her Watcher, normally formally dressed but now with his fashion sense, what there was of it, ruined by his left arm in a sling from a fall and a collection of fantastic bruises on his face. An encounter with a group of vampires had meant she had to takedown three while Giles dealt with the remaining one. Unfortunately the Watcher was not equipped with the strength of the Slayer and had got a dislocated shoulder and the slight facial arrangement. Buffy had finished the vampires off and was now in dire need of a training partner.
Xander had first looked on the job as a chance to bond, only to find that the only subject he could concentrate on was keeping his skin the one shade and not like Giles' current rainbow look.
"Thank you G-man. Do you mind if I borrow some of your
bandages? I think I broke another couple of bones along with my fragile ego when I hit the floor for the twentieth time."
"Xander you were doing fine until you looked over at
"Yeah well it doesn't help if every time you start to pummel me she starts shouting 'Go Buffy' and 'Ra Ra Slayer'."
Both of them looked over at Cordelia who was in her element watching her 'boyfriend' get the crud kicked out of him.. The cheerleading outfit was definitely a distraction to Xander and it was even beginning to dawn on Giles that having Cordelia around to 'help' with training was not the best of ideas. The object of their discussion saw the look in their eyes and got her word in before they could say anything.
"Well some of us have a life to look after. If I lose my place on the cheerleading squad because I'm not practising my life might suffer."
Xander was about to come back with a witty and devastating put down when the hate of his life flashed him one of 'those' looks. He melted.
Giles looked up at the small group of people before him. As much as the pain from his shoulder kept distracting him he still felt unbelievably proud of them. The fight with the Judge and the victory had given the team a boost of confidence and had revealed Xanders military 'training'. It also gave Buffy a newer more experienced sparring partner because of Zander's newfound hand to hand combat ability. He coughed slightly to get their attention.
"I think that is enough for this evening. I'll see you all tomorrow morning before class."
Xander hurried over to Giles before anyone could comment about going to the Bronze. He didn't want to talk about the stuff that he remembered from being a soldier and he needed to get away before the subject came up. Since it had been his idea to use the rocket to kill the Judge and his plan to get it he had been asked repeatedly about what he could recall.
He could remember with extreme clarity the procedures, the protocol and the drill but the rest of it was blurry. And getting blurrier by the minute.
"I'll lock up for you Giles. You should rest the shoulder."
Giles looked at Xander with concern more than anything else. The young man wasnt the greatest for doing extra work unless it involved either the loss of life or the loss of homework. The expression on his face was difficult to read but Giles just nodded and handed him the keys and walked out the door. Zander waited until everyone had left and sat down on the library stairs and put his head in hands.
"What am I going to do?"
* * * * * * *
The bell rang just as the Scooby Gang walked into their first class.
"How did last night go?"
"I ran into Angel again"
Xander looked up quickly at that but just as quickly dropped his head. One glance was enough to see the sadness on Buffys face.
His night hadn't been much better than Buffy's. He'd spent much of the night trying to think of ways to access the memories he had been given so he could do more than carry around Buffy's bag of stakes. Without saying anything else the gang sat in their seats waiting for the teacher, Mr. Wilkins to start the day with another great period of American History. Everyone lookedup to see him enter the class and a collective groan
went out. Except from Willow.
The middle aged man, an American version of Giles, if there could be such a thing, turned and quietly gestured to someone outside the room. In walked a girl, tall and graceful but
with a very young and innocent air about her.
"Class, attention please. I have an announcement to make"
Everyone slouched a little less.
"We have a new student joining us today and would like you to make her very welcome. Meve, could you introduce yourself to the class please."
Coming almost to attention, the girl looked straight ahead at the back of the room. In a clear voice she started talking in a monotone with an unidentifiable accent.
"My name is Maeve -
Looking at the class she pronounced the name as 'May-ev'
-Lynch and I come from West Virginia. My Daddy is in the Army and he got transferred here two weeks ago from North Carolina."
She stopped and looked at the teacher as if to say, No More. He got the hint.
"Well thank you May-ev and I am sure we all join in welcoming you to beautiful Sunnydale."
The teacher droned on in the way teachers do, describing the way the faculty and students would greet her, that is with open arms. In reality the class was giving her the once over. The boys were admiring her fit looking body, the shoulder length blonde hair and most importantly the way she filled out the skirt and blouse she was wearing. The girls looked to see if this new example of West American fashion would be acceptable to either Cordelias little cliche or just the rest of the world.
It was decided for them. Snyder walked in and his eyes fixed on the new girl. Moving up to Maeve in a way that reminded the students of a vulture moving towards easy meat he stopped in front of her.
"As this is your first day here in Sunnydale High we'll show you how things work here. I wanted this first meeting between us to in my office but it can serve as a reminder of the rules to the other ' elements' in this school"
He looked pointedly towards Buffy as he said this. He looked back to Maeve
"I will not tolerate any trouble from anyone in this school, from anyone. I decide the punishments in this school and they are severe. There are rules and they will be followed. Have a nice stay here."
With that done he turned and started to leave the room.
Xander leaned forward until his head was directly behind
"The Troll of Sunnydale Correctional Facility for the Young has spoken."
Willow dipped her head and snorted a quick laugh. Snyder
stopped and turned his head slightly and spoke softly and clearly.
"Mr. Harris, I think you have too much energy on your hands. Mrs. Ogilvie could use your help this afternoon with supervising detention. She doesnt have anyone to keep her company yet."
A small ripple of uneasy laughter went through the class at the demonstration of Snyders discipline. It changed to a sigh as he left the room. Buffy leaned over to Xander and hissed at him.
"You were ment to help me with training this evening."
He shrugged slightly as if to say 'Sorry'. He looked ahead and saw the new girl looking back following their little exchange. She looked away quickly with a little flush for getting caught.
"Now that's done I think we should turn to page one twenty nine and the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and it's affect on...."
* * * * *
*I think these self-hypnosis guys were too much into the
Xander was only half an hour into the detention and was more than slightly ticked off at the little troll who put him here. He was also ticked off at the stupidity of the authors of these 'books' he had borrowed from the library. It was more an act of despiration that had caused him to get these than anything else. The thought of walking around with all these memories and not being able to really access them was aggravating. And the aggravation was growing.
* * * * *
The music was thumping out through the front door of the
Bronze. Maeve could feel it through the murk that seemed to pass for air in this section of the city. From doing this a dozen times before she knew that this moment was the defining one when moving to a new town. Making friends in school was one thing but 'impressing' them going out was the worst. She looked down to her clothes and went through her doubts for the twentieth time that evening. * I look fine. Time to enter the frying pan*
Stepping past the bouncers she looked into the smoked filled room. The converted room was lit only in two places, the stage and the bar. The rest of the room was lit only by the dim reflections from those two places. Moving slowly forward she tried to see someone from her classes when she caught sight of three people. *Buffy, Willow and Xander. God, what were their parents smoking*
Moving forward slowly Maeve was fearful that the trio would ignore her presence altogether. She knew that both of the girls had seen her come in.This was the telling moment. If they looked up before she reached the table she might become part of the group, if not .....
Looking up she saw all three of the Scooby Gang looking back at her with small smiles on their faces. It had been the slight looking girl who had called to her. Smiling herself she went to the table, stopping just to let them make room for her at the table.
"Hi. You're Willow,right?"
"Yeah. Willow Rosenberg. This is Xander and Buffy."
The other two at the table nodded at the mention of their names. Buffy seemed to be checking out the crowd every few seconds. *Probably waiting for the boyfriend* Maeve thought. Xander seemed to be geeking out, clearing out his throat and running his hand through his hair before being fully introduced to the new girl. She had got this routine a lot before. He decided to speak up.
"Xander Harris and this is Buffy but you already know that."
She laughed at the verbal stumble and saw the two girls laugh with her. *This might be some fun after all*
* * * * *
The night had gone pretty well for the first one with
'friends'. The usual questions had come up 'How do you like Sunnydale' yadda, yadda, yadda. The general likes and dislikes had been thrown out into the open and for the most part they, all four of them, seemed to like the same things.
The only touchy moment had come when the subject of her parents had come up and Maeve had to tell them about her parent's divorce. Buffy had given her a look that said that she had gone through the same thing. The only thing that Maeve could do to change the subject was tell them why she was here in Sunnydale.
"My Dad got a transfer and a promotion."
Xander looked slightly interested and asked the predictable
"What's he do?"
The girls looked mystified at this title but Xander got there first with a bubble bursting reply.
"Ooh, the base top-cop."
"He's the commanding officer of the Criminal Investigative
Division for the base and he commands the MP, Military Police also."
He saw the girls lookingat him THAT way again. *Oh Fuck it. I had to start with the military shit again.* He looked around trying to find something to change the subject. He could see that Maeve was puzzled at the reaction his statement had got from the girls and slightly frightened from the expression on his face. He caught a glimpse of the clock above the bar.
"Buffy, it's ten o'clock"
She looked up herself and slipped off the stool.
"I have to go. Giles wants me to stop by before the patrol"
Looking towards the other two they changed the subject quickly to avoid the subject of the 'patrol'.
"I think it's time for me to go too. My Dad'll be having
babies if I'm even half an hour late. What's the quickest way to
Broadmore Drive from here?"
The reaction of the gang suprised her. Buffy's coat stopped in midair and Maeve caught a glimpse of a large wooden cross and some wooden sticks in the inner pockets. Zander and Willow both spoke up.
"We live in that area. We'll go with you."
It wasn't the volunteering to escourt her home but the look in their eyes, especially Buffy's, that spooked her. She had seen the same look on her father's face when he got notice that he had had to go to the Gulf just after the war had broken out.
* * * * *
The mood of the group was now a bit too much on the morbid
side. The 'Scooby Gang', as Maeve had found out their name, was
walking at a fairly good pace for a bunch of teenagers on
a night out. On other nights, much like this one, with other teenagers they would slowly amble down the street shouting, laughing and generally having a ball. This was different.
Buffy was separate from the group by only a few inches but Maeve felt this distance could and would become larger in an instant. All three were talking quietly, but discussing the normal things in life like schooland the need to bring in Euthanasia especially for the lifeform known as Snyder. Maeve laughed at this but found herself the only one.
"What the hell is wrong with you guys?"
The spell was broken. Looks were exchanged before Buffy came forward and started to talk.
"There are ..gangs in Sunnydale and they are generally not nice. They style themselves on vampires and like to hurt people. My ex-boyfriend is their new leader and he pretty much is making my life a misery."
The answer sounded to prepared like the one delievered by a politician who has spent hours working on it.
"You mean they go the whole nine yards. Sleep in coffins, wear bad costumes.."
Zander through in his two cents.
"Pretty much, yeah. Except the coffin thing. A nice dark corner will do them fine and some of them dress all right."
Maeve turned and laughed.
"I bet they even drink blood"
There was no answer. There wasn't a need for one. Maeve took one look at her companions faces and got more than a little frightened.
"You are joking right. I mean the cops have to have an idea about these gangs.."
She trailed off. Silence was all the answer she needed. It was fairly hard to imagine a group of nuts running around biting people for fun. Once her Dad heard about these guys she'd never get out of the house. Shit, her social life, as lousy as it had been, was gone.
"We might have company"
Maeve looked to Buffy and followed her gaze to a dimly lit patch of ground behind them. Outlines, barely visible in the darkness and with the bright yellow streetlights destroying her night vision, seemed to be getting bigger. The figures moving toward them were unhurried, as if saying with their body language 'We do not need to run, we do not fear anything'.
"Are they the gang members?"
She stopped walking waiting to confront the oncomers. In her alst home she had done this some thing. If you show these people fear they would terrorise you for as long as they could. She would show th...
A space in the cover over them opened illuminating the face of the tallest among them. The face was deformed, almost lion like in a way, the nose flowing seamlessly into the forehead, the bright eyes catching the light and the hint of teeth, longer than normal, in the mouth.
"Jesus, what are they?"
"Can we forget about discussions and move?"
Zander grabbed her arm and propelled her forward. They all started to jog slowly, turning their heads every few seconds to keep an eye on the pursuers.
"Where's your house?"
Breathlessly, Maeve pointed to a two storey house, brightly lit and only a few hundred feet away. She looked at the three beside her and saw that they were moving easily at this pace as if they were accustomed to it. Maeve looked behind her again and saw that Buffy was lagging behind them by a few yards with her coat open. What she saw shocked her.
Against the dark fabric she could see the objects she had only glimpsed before. A cross, a half dozen small vials and a couple of stakes were all secured in place by hand made loops of cloth and leather. A blur distracted her. Turning her attention towards it she saw the 'vampires' were nearly on top of them. An unwilling whimper escaped her lips.
"Zander. Keep moving"
It was all Buffy said before she turned and accelerated to a frightening speed. Within a second she launched herself at the leader, feet first. Jumping to her feet with practised ease she grabbed something fromher jacketand stabbed down at one of the fallen. It screamed shrilly and disappeared in a burst of dust. Maeve stopped and looked on in shock as the girl deftly and with deceptive strength kicked and punched her way through the gang. The leader pushed himself and shouted out what sounded like 'The Slayer' and launched himself at her.
Maeve felt Zander and Willow grab her and haul her towards the safety of her house but she couldn't take her eyes off the sight of this innocent looking girl absorb the punishment she was taking from this gang and still keep knocking them down.
Shaking the two loose she ran towards Buffy and launched herself at one of the gang members. With what little self-defense knowledge she had she flailed out at the man only to find him easily blocking her punches. In answer he grabbed her neck and twisted her head roughly to the side. She felt herself being brought closer to the mouth and the teeth but she couldn't speak or scream or shout. The grip on her head shoulder was unyielding and she was afraid of the picture she could see flashing before her eyes. She was afraid of the pain she would feel when he bit her. She was afraid of what ...
* * * * * *
Xander ran after Maeve and saw her initial hits stagger the vampire. But that was all. The vampire grabbed her and raised her toward it's mouth. Xander saw only one chance and crashed into Maeve's back knocking both down. The vampire was first to it's feet and grabbed the limp body of Maeve again moving towards her neck. Dazed, Xander could only watch as the demon preparedto kill and feet. He tried getting to his feet again but couldn't find the energy to move. It didn't matter. Buffy stepped up behind the oblivious vampire and staked it hard through the back. It dropped Maeve to the ground and arched it's back before exploding into a scattering of ash.
Buffy stepped forward and knealt down beside the catatonic girl and started speaking to her in a low murmuring voice. There was no reaction at first but then a low moan escaped her lips. Xander turned away at this. He was disgusted at himself for not being able to at least slow the vampire down. They way that Buffy had killed the vampire meant it had been bone ass stupid and wouldn't have taken a lot to kill. Looking up at Willow he saw something that made it even worse. She was dusting down her jeans, a fine grey-brown dust that meant a vampire had died very near her. An empty bottle of holy water lay on the ground beside her.
"Even Willow managed to get one" he whispered to himself.
Looking back to Buffy he saw that Maeve had come out of her daze and was getting the two minute lecture on vampires. He saw the same reactions on Maeve's face that he had on his own when he had found out about them. He knew that she would deny it to herself and then remember the teeth about to bite her. He didn't envy her. He felt a hand grab him under the armpit and lift. He looked up and saw Willow looking down at him with concern.
"I'm all right, Will. You okay?"
She nodded. Xander knew that she wouldn't be up to talking for a few minutes. These encounters with the undead had a tendency to keep Willow down to monosyllables for a short while after.
* * * * * * * *
It hadn't taken much self persuasion to get to this stage. The only alternative to getting your ass kicked every time you run into the opposition is to place yourself in a position of power. In simple terms,if he has a knife get a gun. And then make sure that he doesn't have the time or ability to get a bigger gun. And this was Xanders big gun.
Finding the spell was the easy bit as far as he was concerned. Pretty much all of the free time for the last few weeks had revolved around finding modern methods of restoring memory. That had been wasted time. Using Giles' library was easy. Card indexing had even reached England so the spell's location was also no problem. The only snag that Xander could see was Giles needing that book for some reason and not finding it. Giles was like a mother bear concerning his books.
Grinding together the rock salt and the bone was done with a food processor. The animal blood and bone had came from his house. His mother wasn't that much of a cook so this was a better use for the Sunday dinner. The quicker that this was done the less evidence that would have to disappear at the end of the day. Placing the candles and lighting them, Xander stepped into the circle of dust and salt dressed in the samefatigues that he had worn last Halloween.
Taking off the dog-tags he knelt down in front of the small urn containing the remaining dust and some of the blood.
"By Hecate and Nemesis, I ask a boon of thee. This one has lost what is needed. Hecate, this loss hurts the Earth. Nemesis, this loss stops my vengence. I give you a symbol of my loss to show what is needed. I give my blood to show you my need. I give you my sacrifice to show my power."
With a small knife Xander sliced the hand holdind the dog-tags and let the blood drip onto them. When the blood reached the end of the tags he dropped them into the urn.
Getting up slowly, Xander looked about the room. Knowing his luck the things he was appealing to would see him and send some appreciation of his effort. Something like a ten foot tall killer demon dog. A hungry one.
Xander stopped. Almost crossing his eyes he looked in front of him and saw his breath beginning to steam. He started to shiver with the unexpected cold and went to sit down again. He fell knocking one of the candles over and crossing the boundary of the circle, scattering the ashes. Struggling to breathe, he felt himself starting to pass out. The last thing he saw were two distinct figures against a blurry background. They said one word together.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Sitting up quickly, Xander stared at the wall in front of him, then out the windows. The sun had gone down. Looking at the clock on the wall behind him he could see that at least six hours had gone by since he had passed out. Shit, the vampires would be out and about. And because he was one of the Slayer's friends Angelus would especially like to gut him. Slowly.
Jumping to his feet he started cleaning up the mess on the floor. Grabbing the urn and the book from the floor he threw them into his gym bag. The only real problem would be the small scorch mark on the floor from the candle landi...
Xander stopped and turned slowly. The swish of double doors closing had come from outside. Putting the brush down with exaggerated care and keeping low he moved towards the door. Staying to the side he looked down the hall towards the library. Nothing. Moving quickly he glanced outside the door and saw two vampires turn the corner. Ducking back into the room Xander started looking for weapons. The brush handle was an obvious choice but it would make too much noise. He had a chance if he could take them by ambush. Picking up a beaker he read the label before pouring in some water. Moving over to the door again Xander gently unscrewed the head of the brush from the wooden handle.
Listening for the vampires, Xander thought about the spell for all of a second.
Keep to the mission, boy.
Whirling around Xander tried to find the person who had said that. Seeing no-one Xander shook his head and decided to do what the voice had said. Stick to the mission at hand.
Keeping his back to the wall Xander stood up slowly and turned his head to look out the glass panel on the door. The two vampires had just passed by and were walking towards the library. Opening the door carefully, Xander looked down both sides of the hallway. The junction the vampires had come from seemed to be empty so Xander moved out.
Keeping low but increasing his pace Xander ran up behind the vampires. At the last second he let out a yell that caused them to turn. Throwing the beaker and it's contents at the farthest vampire he jumped lumberjack style and cannoned both feet into the nearest demons face.
It hit the ground and skid backwards on the polished surface. The glass and liquid covered vampire was clawing at it's eyes and had no defence for Xander smashing the handle over it's head. The handle broke and Xander thrust it's jagged edge into the creatures back. Facing the second vampire, only now coming to it's feet, Xander didn't bother to let it come to him.
Running forward he slammed a fist into its face and followed with a forward spin kick to the side. Before it could recover Xander kicked out again only this time at a lower target. Breaking it's knee he stepped back letting the vampire slump to the ground before staking the demon in the back. With a little smile of satisfaction he watched it dissolve into a cloud of dust.
A clap brought Xanders head with a jerk. In front of him stood a tall, pale man clad in dark clothing. Tilting his head and giving a sinister little smirk he kept clapping in a slow contemptuous way.
"Very nice moves. Did you learn those from the Slayer? Did you try to cop a feel at the same time? It's probably as near as you'll ever get to her."
Xander felt the anger beginning to rise but kept it in check. He knew that Angelus was trying to tick him off, to anger him enough to do something stupid like attack him. So he did the smart thing. Sticking his fist up before him he extended his middle finger and shouted.
"Bite me, asshole"
Wrong choice of words. Xander legged it.
* * * * * * * * * *
Giles whistled a tune as he entered the library, reaching a hand into his waistcoat pocket for the bunch of keys kept there. Putting his tan leather briefcase on the counter he walked over to the cage and went to stick the key in. A quick movement caught his eye and he saw the business end of a loaded crossbow pointed at his chest. He relaxed as he saw who was holding it but tensed again as the familiar face didn't seem to recognise him.
"Xander, what are you doing?"
The sleepy looking young man shook his head and Giles could see situation seep in. He only started to breath again as the crossbow was lowered and the bolt removed. He opened the cage door and let Xander out.
"I had a run in with Angel last night. I was near the school so I came here."
Giles looked closely at the young man. Something wasn't exactly right. The posture was more relaxed, not the usual tense teenager that Giles was used to. Then it hit him.
"Why are you wearing those clothes?"
Xander looked down and saw the same combat gear he had been wearing the night before.
Aw shit. I forgot the gearbag.
"What time is it?"
Not bothering to wait for an answer, Xander raced out of the library for his clothes. Running by the janitor he saw him sweep up the last worldly remains of two dumb ass vamps.
Two more for the 82nd. Hooah.
He stopped and looked at the janitor. For all he could see the little guy hadn't said a word. Shaking his head, Xander ran on ahead to the science room and grabbed what little he had to and sped off to his locker.
"Hey look at the soldier boy."
Xander looked up to see Darren the A-hole incoming. After Larry had .. discovered his more gentle side.. the vacuum left in position of School Bully had lasted all of ten minutes before Darren had stepped in. Ignoring Darren he walked towards his locker. He could see Buffy and Willow coming through the next hallway door and felt the need to change before talking with them.
"Don't you ignore me Harris."
He clamped a hand down on the nerd's shoulder. What happened next was sort of a blur.
Xander felt a tingle in his muscles that quickly turned into a short stabbing pain. Xander could feel the speed and grace as he whirled around and batted Darren's hand away and up. His left fist into Darren's ribs just under the armpit and Xander's foot darted forward to kick the back of his leg as the bully doubled over winded. The whole hall was quiet. Xander had dropped Darren in about two seconds and wasn't even breathing hard. He looked around at the shocked faces and grinned. The grin faded when he saw the same shock on the faces of Buffy and Willow. Turning back to his locker he grabbed his gear bag and ran for the changing rooms.
* * * * * * * * * *
Class was over for the day and Xander was not in a good mood. He had been out of the changing rooms and on his way to the first class and the troll had snagged him. The next week didn't have a rosy future with detention being the only thing in it. The only reason that Xander could think of for his punishment was that Snyder hated Larry more than him. The usual punishment for fighting in the halls was suspension. What was even worse was the looks he kept getting from everyone in the class for the rest of the day.
Another thing was a voice of an older man kept speaking up every now and then. The one good thing about the voice had been during the spot quizzes in Geography and History. The voice had supplied the answers with the greatest of ease and since Xander was the only one who could here him.... It had been the first pair of A's he had got, ever. The time he got a A for drawing the teachers picture in Kindergarten didn't really count.
But the worst had yet to come. He had to help with Buffy's training now and they would ask questions about last night and this mornings little workout with the moron. Steeling himself he stepped into the library.
He stopped as he soon as the door closed behind him. Buffy and Willow were both sitting down at the large wooden table and Giles was standing with a closed book in his hands. In a flash Xander remembered the book that he had borrowed and had forgotten to return. It was in the bag on his arm but to go for it would attract too much attention. Not that he wasn't getting enough at the moment. He walked over and sat down at the desk.
"How's it going, guys? Anything new on the Slaying front?"
They kept looking at him with concern. He couldn't guess if it was over the run in with Angelus or the one with Darren.
"What exactly happened last night?"
Xander looked at Giles and decided that telling part of the truth might do.
"I was here last night and Dead boy was roaming the halls. I ran into him not far from here and made for the library. I got your crossbow and put one shot into his shoulder. He ran before I could finish reloading. I took out some other stuff, crosses and holy water, just in case he came back with some reinforcements. I guess I fell asleep."
"Buffy said that she ran into him late last night and he looked wounded. He ran off and left her to fight two newly risen vampires."
Xander looked at Buffy with sympathy. Nearly every time she went out on patrol she kept running into Angelus. Giles brought Xander back to the present with another question.
"What about the two vampires who were killed in the halls last night?"
"They came running in here a few seconds after Angelus left and I shoved crosses into their faces. I guess he wasn't too happy with them."
Giles didn't appear to be too happy with the answer but it semed to be near the truth. An old vampire would kill a lesser one if it didn't do what it wanted or he might just as an object lesson. Angelus was different, unusually smart. He might have killed one but not both. Unless he was really mad and didn't want any other vampires knowing about his failure. Vampire society was very much into the concept of survival of the fittest. Xander saw that Giles was probably thinking the same thing and decided to risk it.
"He wasn't happy when I shot him. And he didn't get happier when I shoved the cross in his face. I guess my shot was a little too close to the heart for his liking."
He smiled as he saw that his little joke brought grins to every one's faces.
"So are we still training tonight."
Buffy looked up at Xander and wondered why he was bringing up the subject of training. His normal style was to stand up and start groaning at the punishment to come. Now he seemed almost eager to begin. Giles went into his office and began pulling out the training mats from the large cabinet. Between the three of them it took only a few seconds to lay them out.
"We'll only train for an hour or so tonight. The Watchers council needs to have a full report on activities tonight so we'll leave early. Buffy there won't be a need for a patrol."
Buffy was surprised at this. She had been thinking of asking for the night off so she could visit Maeve and see if she had recovered from her scare. Willow had agreed with her that unless she talked about it she'd go nuts. She nodded at her Watcher silently thanking him for the night off.
Giles was happy when Buffy didn't give him any argument over his decision. He knew that Angelus was goading her into fighting him on his own grounds. And that would get the Slayer killed. He watched with approval as both fighters began warm up excercises. Normally he would get them to start immediately, to simulate a chance encounter with a vampire, but tonight he wanted things to go easy. He looked over to Xander and stopped in shock.
The young man was gliding across the floor using a sequence of martial arts that he had never seen Xander use before. He looked at Willow and saw that she was equally shocked at this new improved version of Xander. From her reaction Giles could see that she must have no idea how Xander could have gained this knowledge. A glimmer of a revelation came and as quickly dissappeared as the fighters went to opposite corners of the mat.
Buffy had caught the last few moves that Xander had used. They had been very graceful but powerful. She shook herself and stepped forward quickly, increasing her speed to catch her opponent unawares. And landed on her back winded, looking up at Xander who was grinning widely at her.
She had reached out both hands to grab and flip him. His answer had been to grab her left wrist, spin into and under her arm and then drive an elbow into her stomach. The following flip had been more of her own doing than anything else.
This was going to be interesting.
* * * * * * * * *
Xander threw his bag on the ground in front of the locker. Training had gone on for all of half an hour tonight. It had been cut short mainly because everybody seemed to be shocked by the level of martial arts that he had displayed. Xander himself couldn't remember much of it. His only reply to Giles' finishing of the training had been a mute nod of the head and a wave goodbye to his friends.
When he had stepped onto the mat, the voice had sounded in his ear and just said a few words.
From what I know of you boy I think I should take over here.
Xander had felt a warm tingle and then a quick sharp pain as before at the lockers and then he was moving. His muscles screamed at him as a leg moved a bit farther than it was used to or a hand too fast.
You need a little more exercise, boy the voice criticised.
When the movements had finished Xander's body had relaxed. Xander could feel an anxiety coming from whatever was in control. Xander pushed against the force in his body and moved his hand flexing it. Deciding to go with the flow he let the presence get back in control and he waited for the attack. When Buffy had come for him Xander didn't even have time to cringe. His body, now being controlled by the presence, met her charge and had her on the ground in a flash.
The next two attacks went the same way. Each time Buffy went to attack she feinted and still ended up on the ground. After the third'attack' Zander took back control and started some excercises of his own. In his own Zander style he did a small vitory dance before returning to the mat. Waiting for the attack to begin and the presence to kick in all he got was...
You can have this one boy. See if you've learnt anything.
Things turned, very quickly, to shit.
Buffy moved in, in full Slayer mode.
She would have denied it but the victory dance had ticked her off. Swinging for Zander's head she clipped his ear as he ducked beneath the blow. His leg swept out and connected with her left knee, hooking it towards him. Flicking her left foot forward Buffy hit him in the ribs and saw Xander spin and hit the ground hard. He got up as quickly as she did but with none of his former grace. Taking this to mean that he had been hurt a little more than he was showing Giles had ended the session and they had adjourned to do some homework.
It took all of thirty seconds before Buffy suggested that they go and visit Maeve at her place and leave the homework to later. How much later did not come up.
All the way to the lockers Zander's new friend had criticised evevy move that he had made in his fight with Buffy.
You remind me of those dumb drill sergeants in the army movies was the only thing that Zander could come up with in retaliation.
You bet your lily white ass I am one of those dumb D.I.s boy. When I am finished with you ..
Zander tuned out the voice and got changed.
* * * * * * * * * *
Maeve's house looked a lot nicer in the daylight. The Scooby Gang had met up, sans Cordelia, before heading to Maeve's and now all five of them stood admiring the view for all of five seconds. Xander pointed out a car in the driveway which probably meant that her father was home. With Buffy leading they walked to the front door. A twitch of a curtain in one of the downstairs windows told them that someone had seen them coming. The front door opened in and a massive form came out onto the porch. Buffy almost went into attack-mode.
The man stood tall at around 6' 3" and looked newly as wide across the shoulders. The only word that could be used to describe him would be 'monster'. His face was very dark and had several small white lines across one side. The smile on his face made him appear a lot less threatening and the Gang relaxed.
Zanders little friend was far from relaxed. As soon as Zander got a clear look at the soldier's face the voice started to shout in a happy tone.
Shit. Poopy Lynch.
It took a lot of Zander's willpower not to start laughing at the stupidity of calling the giant, Poopy anything.
"Hi, you must be Maeve's friends. Come on in. She'll be right down."
He walked back into the house and they followed. In a parade ground voice he shouted up to his daughter that 'her friends were here'. He didn't get an answer. Turning to Buffy and Willow with a gaurded expression on his face he gestured to them to go up the stairs. Looking at the two guys he nodded towards the kitchen. Buffy and Wilow went wordlessly up the stairs.
They could guess that Maeve was not over the attack. The two other members of the Scooby Gang were also guessing the same thing as they followed her father. As they entered the room the man went over to a table covered with papers and made a small effort to tidy it. He pulled a couple of chairs away from the table and put them in front of the two guys.
"Sit, please. I need to ask you a few things."
Xander and Oz traded a worried glance. Zander was more worried because the voice was going on about things that 'he' and 'Poopy' had done in their bygone days. The last thing that Zander wanted to do was fall over laughing at half the crap that was being said in his head. All he had to do for the next few minutes was stall until Buffy came down. It wouldn't be too hard to change the topic then.
* * * * * * * * * *
The conversation had gone rapidly downhill from a simple question and answer to the point where the Colonel looked ready to strap on the rubber gloves for the third degree.
All in all Jim Lynch was tired. And he hated to be lied to. Normally, if this was an army private lying to him he'd tear the little shit a new asshole. From what he could find out from the local chief of police the gang thing was a bad problem and only came to a head every now and then. The chief had told him about a few encounters between the cops and these gangs and the men he had to bury afterwards. A noise on the stairs and footsteps told him that the girls were finished and coming down.
He stood up and waited for the three of them to come in. Willow and Buffy came in and that was it.
Buffy and Willow were downcast. Maeve had been in tears and looked weak from hunger. She had held a cross up to them when they had come in and nearly fainted in relief when Buffy had said 'it's all right'. She had mumbled for the next ten minutes, telling them about the nightmares and the vomiting. She had talked about going to live with cousins in Alabama 'for the moment'. She had talked for ten minutes without letting either of the two girls speak. When they had she had curled into a ball when they mentioned going out. They hadn't got a word out of her after that.
"She isn't feeling well."
Lynch looked at Buffy when she said this and saw that Maeve hadn't really reacted to the presesnce of her newfound friends. He looked at them again trying to see if they were hiding anything further. They were staring at the floor, each other, anywhere but at him. The larger of the two boys was staring at the mass of papers on the table beside him. His eyes were shifting left to right as if he was reading. He slapped his hand down on the table and the kid jumped and glanced at him guiltily before flushing a deep red.
"What's your name kid?"
"Are you always this nosy, kid?"
The other members of the Scooby Gang lowered their heads as they prepared for Xander's digging his own grave. They were surprised at the answer.
"Sir, no sir."
The soldier blinked at this response. Looking at Xander with a small smile on his face he decided to cut loose the military response.
"Where was your father stationed?"
Xander switched back to his normal self.
"He is not in the army Mister Lynch, sir."
That hit the Colonel as a bit of a surprise. This kid carried himself as someone intimately knowledgable about army life. Most kids, if they were just into the weaponry, wouldn't have the demeanor down pat. This kid did like the children of some of his colleagues. He caught the kid looking again but at the wall behind him this time.
"Something interesting there?"
This kid has some balls to come in here and be this nosy.
The nosy kid in question gave him an answer that shook him.
"I was just looking at some of the pictures, sir. You seem to be a little pooped in some of them."
Xander was barely holding back a massive grin. The voice in his head was in hysterics at his little 'pooped' joke and the reaction that he had got from the colonel.
Lynch had gone almost crimson at hearing that phrase. If the story about him crapping in the General's shoes during his initial training for Delta got around the Sunnydale base he'd never live it down.
"You wouldn't happen to have had a relation in North Carolina called Phillip A. Harris by any chance."
He felt ike talking to these kids more but he could see it was getting late. He said as much. As they got up to leave they heard a voice come from upstairs. Lynch pushed by the gang and went upstairs.
"I think we should leave."
Xander looked over to Buffy, half startled. Those were the only words she had spoken since she had gone upstairs. But it was a sensible solution. He went to the door and opened it slowly. Willow was just going through the door when Maeve called to them from the top of the stairs.
"A friend of yours came by last night. He said that he just missed you and he needed to talk."
Buffy stared at the frightened young girl and she knew who had called to see her.
"That's his na...."
She broke off as she saw the reaction the name had on Buffy. She knew that this was the ex-boyfriend.
"Did you invite him in."
* * * * * * * * * *
Willow ran back to her house for the holy water and other such niceties that are required in vampire repulsion and extermination. In all it took her fifteen minutes to get there and back. It took longer to persuade Maeve's father that this stuff would make Maeve feel a lot more secure. And it would work against the gangs in that they 'repected' the things that were said to hurt vampires.
It was the only thing they could think up at such short notice.
They left the house showing a lot more happiness than they felt. They all knew that Angelus would use Maeve and her father against Buffy. Angel had deliberately set this up so Buffy would know he had access to the Lynch's house. Everyone knew that Buffy would do everything possible to stop them from being hurt. As good as she was, Buffy knew that she was very much on the losing side at the moment.
They left Buffy at her house and each of them went their own way after that. Zander decided to walk back to his place. He really needed to clear the air between the voice and him.
A stabbing pain shot through Xanders head as the voice started another tirade. But this was different. The voice was far from just suggestive now. Xander listened and smiled with approval. Turning his face towards his home he made his choice.
* * * * * * * * * *
When his Dad had got the gun his mother had gone ape-shit. His reason was that he was a lawyer and he needed it for protection. The doctor had calmly replied with the effects of the gunshot wound lecture. They both agreed that keeping the gun out where Alexander might get at it was not a good idea. So they hid it to the best of their ability.
It took him all of three minutes to find it.
His Dad had listened to the gunshop clerk. The gun was a nine round .22 calibre. A few seconds more searching turned up a box of ammunition with fifty rounds but only the one magazine. That was a problem. One magazine meant that for all purposes he had only six shots and one in the chamber before he ran out. To try and load any more would take too much time in a bad situation. Shaking the extra ammunition out into his hand Xander dumped them into his jacket pocket. The gun went into the other pocket.
Running back to his room Xander grabbed the stakes and holy water under his bed and ran down to the kitchen. Going through some presses he found a few small tubes and stuffed them into the bag with the rest of his kit. Grabbing a doggy bag from the frigde he slammed the press shut he heard the sound of a car horn. Oz was here in the van. Time to go.
* * * * * * *
Xander knew that the attack would come in two directions. The first group would be the largest and come from the back of the house. The only purpose for this group was to occupy the Slayer and die. The second, probably lead by Angelus, would hit the front of the house. Once Angelus was in the door he'd invite the rest in. Buffy was sitting in the bushes at the back of the house. She'd agreed with Xander's general plan so Willow and Oz were with him out the front in Oz's van.
He felt fairly stupid sitting in the van. Although they were looking hard out the windows for the attack he could feel the unasked questions coming from both Oz and Willow. They would love to know the logic behind his plan. How could he tell them that this was the general type of attack favoured by the English during the late 18th century. If he came out with that as an answer the next question would be 'How long have you been a history buff?'. He was not prepared to answer that. The mention of a little voice telling him what to do would get him a first class booking to Sunnydale's Hotel for the Reality Challenged. And as a bonus he'd get the White Room.
"I need to get some stuff from my bag. Will, you can take the seat."
Willow gave him a slightly worried glance as she took the front seat. Keeping his back to her Xander pulled the gun from his pocket and slipped the magazine out. Unloading it quietly, he took out one of the tubes from his bag and lightly smeared the top of each of the bullets. With that done he reloaded and slipped it back into his pocket. Wiping his hands clean on a rag he grabbed the doggy bag of food and returned to the front of the van.
"Anyone for a slice of cold garlic with garlic pizza?"
"How much garlic is on that?"
"My mom made it. I'd say about a clove or so."
They both looked over at Oz as he made a gagging noise and rolled down the window a few inches. Xander smiled slightly and started to eat.
* * * * * * * *
Angelus was having a fine time. It was barely half past two in the morning and he had had his fill for the evening with no sign of the Slayer.
The poor baby is probably feeling ill. Especially when she finds out I visited the Lynch's.
The Lynch's. When news had gotten back to him about the few vampires that had gotten killed near the house he had gone to have a look. And been shocked by what he had seen.
Watching from the lawn he had seen Jim Lynch move through the house and been struck by the resemblence. It was the still clear after two hundred plus years but the mortal looked so much like the cousin of Angelus fFynch-Fitzlynch it almost disturbed the vampire.
* * * * * * * * * *
1788 - Galway, Ireland
It was only a week or so since Darla had brought him across and the demon had more than removed all of Angelus' inhibitions. Darla had been surprised at the quickness at which her 'offspring' had overcome the primal desires of a newborn vampire. And she was surprised at the ferocity of his plans for his family and their friends. He had no friends left. They had been his first food.
Being of the present time Angelus knew the heartbeat of the city of Galway: trade. And to trade successfully any man needed the patronage of power. In the twenty eight years that his father had traded in Galway the succession of Lynch Mayors-of-Galway had more than assisted him in diverting the hostilities of competitors in the spices and silks trade that had earned him a fortune.
And his dear father was about to loose that patronage.
Using Darla in her persona as the daughter of a visiting Spanish nobleman, Angelus had her seduce the son of the Mayor. Just as the young man's infatuation came to a head Angelus appeared as a rival suitor and Darla gave the appearance of his advances being all the more successful. In a fit of rage the young Lynch stabbed to 'death' Angelus and dumped him into the Clare-Galway river.
Several days later the young man was sentenced to hang. He died by his fathers hand, swinging from the upstairs window of their family home with a mob of angry people for an audience.
And even in the face of all that Lynch continued in his position of Mayor. And with it came the assured and continued wealth of his family. With his plans for his family's downfall destroyed Angelus stormed into his house in a fit of rage and slaughtered them all leaving his father to bleed to death while he watched his loved ones die.
Angelus decided to use the same strategy here. He'd use some of the other vampires to keep the Slayer busy and take the family down himself.
May as well finish the job off. Two hundred years late but who's counting. he thought to himself.
With a gesture he sent the main body of vampires off with instructions to be loud and noisy. He laughed to himself as they boasted about who would kill the Slayer. He fully expected them all to fertilize the lawn.
* * * * * * * * *
Before half of the first slice was gone they started the hear the thumps and short screams that usually meant that Buffy was doing her job. Getting ready each of them grabbed a cross, some stakes and holy water. Xander was going to ditch the cross at the first opportunity. Killin vampires was not the first priority tonight. Opening the doors they ran across the lawn towards the front porch and stopped there. They had to make sure that Angelus did not get into the house.
It didn't take long for him to arrive. All of two minutes had passed since the first group had run into Buffy, Angelus and three goon came around the corner. They slowed as they took in the gang and Angelus started to laugh.
"Well, if it isn't Dog-Boy, the Geek and the Wannabe. Kill them."
The goons ran straight at the Gang not bothering with finesse. Willow threw a bottle of holy water into the face of the first one, blinding it. Stabbing down she dusted it. Xander kicked out smashing the face of the next and knocking it back onto the lawn. Xander saw Angelus coming up the last few feet to the porch, not bothering to wait for the success or failure of his 'offspring'. Xander gripped the pistol and drew it quickly. Aiming one handed he fired two shots into Angelus' gut. Bringing it up he moved to a two handed stance and shot the other two vampires in the head. They dropped without a sound. Willow and Oz jumped forward and bent over them. A second later there were two more piles of dust.
Angelus was kneeling forward with his head almost touching the grass, one hand out in front to hold him up. Xander, with quick movements unloaded and reloaded the gun to full capacity. He stepped forward and grabbed Angelus' head by the hair pushing it back to see his face. He put the gun to Angelus' forehead and smiled.
"I can put two bullets into your heart or your head and we wouldn't even have to break a sweat to stake you. Move."
Xander pulled him up into a crouch and pushed him forward, putting the gun to the vampire's back. A not too gentle prod every few seconds kept him aware of the danger of giving Xander trouble. With Willow and Oz behind him exchanging worried glances Xander herded Angelus to the back of the house. What they saw there shocked them to the core.
Buffy was badly bruised and limping as she fought off three vampires. Clumps of ash could be seen in different parts of the lawn showing the progress of her fight to date. Xander kicked Angelus' legs from under him and took a stake from his friends.
"Call them off or I'll kill you."
Angelus snickered and started to laugh until the stake smacked into his back hard enough to break the skin but not to destroy the vampire.
The attacking vampires froze at the command. Buffy did not. She took the chance and shoved her stake into one, then another. The third jumped back out of the wounded Slayer's reach before she could swipe at it. Buffy kept her guard up but looked over to Xander. The sight stunned her as it had stunned the vampires. Angelus, in obvious pain, was slumped on the ground with Xander above him, stake in hand. Willow and Oz were behind him stake and crosses at the ready but their faces were shocked with the turn of events.
Xander kicked his captive forward, knocking him onto his back. The vampire's face changed to demonic form and he started to growl.
"I'm going to fucking kill you, meat."
He started to get up but froze when Xander aimed the gun at his face. It wasn't the gun that stopped him but the total lack of emotion on the mortal's face. If it were anyone else, Angelus would take the pain of the bullets but there was a chance that the boy could do what he said. He moved back slowly the gun still pointed at his face. As the range increased Xander changed to a two handed stance keeping the sights centered on the demon's forehead.
Buffy moved up beside him her limp less pronounced. She followed the progress of her former boyfriend as he left and felt sadness at the absolute lack of humanity that he displayed. She turned to look at Xander and he answered the question that he knew that she would ask.
"Remember when Darla shot him. She said that bullets won't kill a vampire, just hurt it. I got my Dad's gun and dipped the tips in garlic. I know that he'll recover from them but it won't be tonight."
He handed her the gun and stepped up to the back door of Maeve's house. They had had a hard time of convincing Colonel Lynch to take his daughter onto the post for the night. The sight of her when she thought she was staying the night alone in an empty house had hit him and she was now staying with the family of one of the other officers on post.
Xander turned away and walked around the house back to the van, reclaiming the gun from Buffy along the way. He knew that Angelus would pretty much forget about Maeve and focus solely on ripping him to small component pieces slowly. He had to be ready.
* * * * * * * * *
Angelus moved as fast as he could back to the safety of the factory and the other vampires. With the pain that the bullets had brought a slow walk was all he had could manage. His rage had built to epic levels with every painful step. Going in through the rusted doors of the factory Angelus looked around for Drusilla to help tend his wounds. She was waiting for him, her face concerned with the pain that she could feel from him. She rushed forward only to stop
when the stench of burning garlic reached her. Her eyes glazed over as she seemed to go into a trance and her lips started to move with a low whisper. He couldn't hear at first because of the ebbing pain but she was starting to
"The Slayer has a toy soldier to play with. Can I have a toy soldier to play with, my Angel?"
This wasn't like Dru. She was acting like she was weak again, barely in control of her mind and her abilities. And her abilities, the prophetic one was kicking in hard. Grabbing her by the arm he pulled her forward.
"Who's the toy soldier?"
She turned her face to him, as if seeing him for the first time.
"Is my Angel hurt? Did the soldier hurt you? Again?"
Angelus looked at her and recalled the nightmare that had been the attack. The moves that Xander had made were nothing that either Angel/Angelus had seen before from him.Looking to the female vampire he shook her again.
"Who is the soldier?"
"He's the Slayer's but older. A shadow in the light. A darkness that hates us. Miss Edith is afraid."
Angelus let her go and walked away. His mind was working overtime. The possibility that his former piece of ass had a new ally was not a good one. That this ally was Xander made it even worse. There had never been any love lost between them.
He stopped and walked to the central floor of the factory.
"How long until dawn?"
The only other surviving vampire from the raid, a female, stepped forward and gave him his answer.
"Two hours, Angelus."
It wasn't enough time. It would take at least an hour to collect the forces he needed. Most of the his vampires would be out feeding or bringing newly risen vampires back to the factory. These too would be of no real use to him, at least for eight or nine hours until the initial blood lust faded. Turning to the female vampire again he motioned to her to come forward. She did and died. Angelus' mouth curled into a vicious grin and he turned and started
to speak to his minions.
"I want every one of us here tonight. When the sun goes down we have one target, the Slayer and her sidekicks."
He didn't expect them to ask questions about when and where they would attack the Slayer. The demonstration that he had provided them with the death of the female vampire ensured their 'loyalty'. For the moment.
* * * * * * * *
It was fairly quiet in the library. When Buffy normally delivered her report she was bouncing with energy but today was different. When she had told Giles about the large force of vampires that Angelus had sent against her he had sat down with the shock of it. The most difficult part of the report was the tactics employed by Xander in beating the vampires at the front of the house. Willow said nothing at this point, only staring hard at the ground with a glum look on her face. It got worse when Buffy told Giles about how Xander had humiliated Angelus at the back of the house.
"Willow, could you tell me what happened at the front of the house?"
"Um.. Angel only had three others with him. They attacked us and I hit one with holy water then staked it. The other two were coming forward and Angel was right behind them. Xander pulled this little gun out of his pocket and shot the two vampires in the face then he shot Angel in the stomach."
Buffy turned her head away when she heard this. As much as she hated the vampire that was Angelus, every time she saw his face she saw only Angel. She couldn't take the thought of her Angel in pain.
"How far away were all the vampires from him when he shot them?"
Willow searched around the room for reference points.
"If Xander was at the door of your office, the nearest was at the near corner of the table, the next only a foot or so behind it and Angel was at the door of the cage."
Giles stepped back into the doorway of his office and made a gun of his hand. Using the information that Willow had given him Giles aimed then stopped.
"Did he use one hand or two?"
Willow shook her head. The fight had been too fast and she had only heard the shot before she looked at Xander holding the gun... Her head shot up.
"He was holding the gun in one hand. His right."
Giles used his one hand and moved it quickly between the three reference points. The speed had to be quick as the average vampires reflexes were far better than a humans. Even with the training that Giles had and the experiences of his youth he knew that only a trained marksman could have hit those targets with that speed and accuracy. And what troubled him was that he knew that Xander hadn't come by that training naturally.
And that could mean that the soldier that Xander had become those few months ago might now be coming out to dominate him. And that might mean..
"Buffy have you felt the personality of your Halloween character coming back in any way."
Buffy stared at Giles wth a very puzzled look. She could still remember the stupid vain woman that she had 'become' for that few hours last November and how she had nearly been Spikes midnight snack because of it. The thought of having that personality back in control and being was that helpless was frightening.
Giles gave his charge a concerned look. Her normal humour was far from evident and that was not a good sign. Giles had read the journals of Watchers who had seen their Slayers like this. Those volumes usually ended not too soon after that.
"I need to do some research on the subject. Where is Xander by the way?"
"Giles. There was something else."
"Xander said that he dipped the bullets in garlic. I thought that the smell is the only thing that hurt them."
Giles frowned for a moment and reached behind the counter for the 'Vampyr' book, the first that he had ever shown Buffy. He flicked through the pages until he arrived at a picture of soldiers in armour with eagle standards.
"In the first century B.C. Roman soldiers encountered a massive Egyptian army. They were outnumbered and so smeared their blades with garlic. They did this so any wounds caused by their swords would fester and kill by disease. Legend has it that a small number of vampires attacked a patrol of vampires and were beaten off because of the pain that the poisoned blades caused."
Both of the girls looked up at this. All of the Scooby Gan had gone through that book just to see and read about their mutual enemy. Even Xander had and that worried them. They hadn't seen Xander all that morning which was very weird. He was usually the first person that they met in the morning. They jumped as the library doors were batted inward by a beautiful missle. Cordelia, red faced with anger, stormed in. Stopping in front of Buffy and crossing her arms she glared at her.
"Where is Xander? He was supposed to meet me at the Bronze at ten last night. I mean I have to go through the humiliation of going out with a geek only to be stood up by him in front of everyone. I mean, come on. I waited there until closing and he still didn't turn up. I mean I know that he has to help you now and then but could you think about me once in a while."
Giles held up his hand to Cordelia either to stop her talking or the migraine that started every time she came by. She caught the movement and shut up.
"Buffy, what time did you leave that girl's house at?"
"About nine thirty. Giles, from the attitude that Xander was giving off I'd be more afraid for anything attacking him."
Willow was nodding her head at Buffy's statement. It was hard for her to come to terms with the massive change in Xander. To her knowledge he had never gone near guns before and now he was Wyatt Earp 1999.
"What happened? Was Xander hurt? If he is I'll kill him. He HAS to meet me tonight. He can't stand me up two nights in a row."
Cordelia wheeled around and stomped off through the door. The two girls and the Watcher exchanged amused glances before the realisation hit home. Xander had left the house at about the time that Buffy had said. Even if he had taken his time getting to the Bronze he would have been there at about ten thirty at the latest. Willow started to go through her bag. Snaring a piece of paper she ran out the library doors she left the two remaining people stunned as to
her sudden rush. Two minutes later she came back in.
"I rang Xander's house. There was only the answering machine."
Buffy looked down at the floor. The only reason for Xander not being at school or at his home could be if he was attacked after leaving them last night. They all knew that Angelus had been badly humiliated by Xander and would have killed him on sight but he had been too badly wounded. But Angelus wasn't the only vampire in town. Drusilla could have been hunting on her own that night too. The final bell for class rang. Giles rubbed his forehead and motioned them towards the door.
"I'll go out to Xander's house and see if he's sick or something. I'll tell you later what I find."
As the two girls walked out the door Giles started to ponder the true possibilities of what might be wrong. From the books he had read on the subject or gradual possession it was likely that the invading spirit might go to someplace that it was home in. Grabbing his coat Giles grabbed his jacket and went out to talk with Snyder. With his excuses made he could do some searching of the town but until he could find something out about this spirit he couldn't really do anything for the young man.
* * * * * * * * * *
The object of Giles' worry was resting from the tiring night of thieving. After the attack had finished Xander's little voice had brought up the question of what Angelus' next move would be. It was fairly easy to see that he was now top of Angelus' Rip-the-little-fucker-apart list, not to mention the vampires shit list. It wouldn't take a rocket scientist to guess that Angelus was going to bring a small army out of his hidey hole and lay waste to everything between him and the Slayer and her friends.
When the Scooby Gang had split up that night Xander had made for Willy's bar. A few quick words and the promise of a visit from the Slayer got exactly the information that he needed. The next part was slightly more difficult. Xander had spent the better part of two hours hunting around fro the right colour van and had finally managed to find one only to see it was alarmed to the hilt. Another hour went by before he found one only slightly less protected.
Driving back to his house Xander entered quietly and got out his Halloween costume. Half an hour later he was ready. Getting into the van, Xander drove to the army base andspent every second going over the scenario that he was about to put into play. Turning the final corner he could see the gates of the base only a couple of hundred feet away.
As if without a care in the world and with the arrogance of someone who knows that whatever he does in totally sanctioned by the higher ups he pulled up to the shut steel gate and beckoned to the MP's on duty to come over. He felt most of his nervousness dissolve away with the now familiar tingle as his voice took over.
"I have to report in."
The MP held out his hand for the bunch of papers that usually comes with a transfer in.Xander shook his head. The MP frowned and leaned forward, putting his hand on the window frame and leaned into Xander's face.
"What the fuck do you think you're up to? I need orders to let you in after dark in Sunnydale. Didn't they tell you that in whatever shithole they sent you from.."
The last was said more as a question. The MP was looking to find out if the newbie was totally green or just stupid. The answer wasn't what he expected.
"Fort Bragg is far from a shithole. And I'm here early to visit your new boss, Lynch. His daughter was a friend of my sister's and I heard she got roughed up by a gang. You can check with him if you want."
The MP's looked at each other and went through a few seconds of silent decision. The new Provost Marshal was a good enough guy, for an officer. So far he hadn't jumped in anyone's shit over the missle thing. Except for that dumbass that had been on duty that night. Letting a goddamm kid into the armoury. The junior of the two MP's walked over to the gate and pushed it open as the sergeant triggered the release from the warmth of the hut.
Xander gave a lazy salute to the MP's as he drove in. When they had passed out of his direct vision he let out a gulp of air as the tingle in his muscles died out and he could feel all his control returning. He could feel or at least sense that his 'friend' was less than pleased.
They let us in too easy, boy. If I was the C.O. of this base I'd ream them new assholes for letting you us in like that.
Xander didn't respond and let the line of questioning go. He knew that if his friend was right a dozen Military Police cars would be on top of him in an instant.
Driving for the Post Headquarters he took a sharp turn and drove towards the storage depot. Taking another turn before hitting the armoury, Xander stopped at a large warehouse that had nothing more than a keypad lock on it. Recalling the numbers from one of the sheets on Colonel Lynch's kitchen table he tapped away and let the lock fall open.
Stepping back into his van he drove back a hundred yards and waited for ten minutes. If an alarm had been triggered by his opening the door the MP detail would be piling in through all the doors of the warehouse by this time. Moving forward again, Xander parked the van by the door and hurried inside. Clicking on his torch he checked allocation numbers against the list in his head. Ten minutes later he was in front of another warehouse picking its lock open with the override code. It took over an hour and breaking into three warehouses before he was finished.
Driving back to the gate Xander was in a fairly good mood. Most of the gear that he hadn't been able to get wasn't essential, just a bonus, at least by his friends estimation. At the gate he waved at the gaurds as they passed him through. He stopped for all of a few seconds to ask directions to the nearest motel. It took a few seconds of friendly ragging about the enlisted quarters before he got what he didn't really need and took the van off towards his home.
It took him all of twenty minutes to offload his gear into the back of the garage and another ten to stash the van a good two miles from his house in some alley. He walked back to the house taking his time. This close to the dawn not even the bravest vampire would chance getting burnt by the sun's rays. A police cruiser passed him by, it's occupants giving him a quick look over. He gave the usual teenager reaction and half ignored them. In a few hours that level of interest in a lone walker would change when the army base personnel discovered all his new little toys missing from their locked warehouses and reported the theft to the localpolice.
Back at the house Xander relaxed. His parents would be up in an hour and he would have to look like he was getting ready for school. If they got even the slightest suspicion that he was going to cut class for the day then he'd be screwed. Xander thought about what he had done the night before. The thing that bothered him the most was the casual way he had bluffed himself onto the base. Going back through the night he could remember the words and gestures that he and the MP's had exchanged.He had played his part so well that there had been no
suspicion aroused in the two men who had guarded the base.
*Nearly an hour before school-time. I may as well get some sleep*
Lying back on the bed, Xander relaxed and closed his eyes. In seconds he was asleep.
* * * * * * * * * *
It had been a hard drive but it had been worth it. All in all it had taken nearly two weeks to travel the length of the country but the sights would stay with the girls for some time. Like any proud father he looked back at the objects of his affection. Both were curled up into balls, one with the better part of her whole fist up his nose and the other with her left thumb flicking her 'belly-button' to the rhythm of her sucking her thumb.
His wife was waking up every few minutes to check on the girls and him before going back to her doze. It was a given thing between them that they would drive the car in rotation, four hours on four off and no more than eight hours travelling in one day. It was getting dark already and they had seven hours done today but their eventual destination lay only an hour
and a half away.
It took nearly three hours with the amount of delays. There had been a minor car crash and a mob war had been going on between the occupants across all the lanes of the highway. The fighting was stupid, more missed punches and screaming matches than anything else. With eyes grainy with staring into oncoming headlights the family finally arrived at their destination. Finding theit new home at this time of night was out of the question and the new journey to find a motel started.
His wife spotted a couple walking hand in hand along the street. They were dressed strangely,the girl in an old fashioned gown of white cloth, a leather jacket draped around her shoulders.They were strolling gently towards a destination and didn't appear to be in a great hurry. Pulling the car gently to the curb a few feet ahead of them, his wife opened her window and leaned her head out to ask directions. The couple walked over, the female glancing in the back at the girls gave a small smile to the male. It spoke of a hunger that
sent a shiver down the mans back and he reached across to tap his wifes shoulder. The female walked forward leaving her companion standing feet apart and hands loose at his sides.
She reached the car and with deceptive strength pulled the woman from the car by her hair. The husband reached down between his legs for the gun stored there and ripped it free from the holster. Flailing about in her agony, his wife's foot caught him in the head. Stars danced before his eyes when he heard two more voices join his wife in her screaming. He looked back to see the fear in his children's eyes and then he snapped his car door open.
Working the action of the gun even as he stepped out of the car, he spun on his heel and aimed the gun at the lesser of his two targets. As the white dots of the sights merged he saw the males face contort to something just as he squeezed the trigger. His wife's screams cut off abruptly and the car rocked as if hit. Distracted by the movement he squeezed a round off and saw it thump into the face of the male, shattering his jaw and doing little else. Moving slightly to the left he took aim at where the woman had been only to find no target. A blur of movement and the male creature was coming over the car at him. He snapped off two more rounds and noticed just as the thing hit him that his children were not screaming any more.He felt himself slam into the ground and saw the fist coming down. A moment of blackness and the face of the male was getting closer and he could feel the teeth begin to bite and tear and tear and te....
* * * * * * * * * * *
Xander shot up from the bed with a scream at the images that had held him asleep for thelast eternity. A glance at the clock told him his private eternity had lasted only ten minutes. Still shaking he stripped off his sweat soaked t-shirt and with the nightmare stillfear fresh, checked his throat. No damage.
It was obvious the spell had worked. He looked up and saw the face from his nightmare looking at him. He screamed again and pushed himself back against the headboard of his bed. Turning its head to follow him, the spectre spoke.
Nice of you to wake up, boy.
Xander recognised the voice but his fear didn't lessen one bit. The 'thing' in front of him was tall, just over six feet. Dressed in casual clothes he looked just about normal, the type of guy you would see in the street any day of the week. What wasn't normal was the massive tear in the throat and the run of dried blood down his chest and side. In short the image in front of Xander wasn't exactly the type of thing that you'd invite to a party.
"Who the fuck are you?"
The image blurred for a second to leave a beribboned soldier in dress uniform. But the scar and the blood remained.
Phillipus Alexander Harris, Major U. S. Army. And you called me.
You cast a spell that bonded us for revenge, boy. I am here to kill my killers and you are here to get back at them for me.
Xander gave the ghost a puzzled look.
"But I cast the spell to help me with these memories. What good is a ghost with a Charles Bronson attitude going to get me?"
What memories are these?
Xander gave the ghost a quick rundown on the previous Halloween.
So you have all these memories and no form of reference. Like an amnesiac who knows how to talk and tie his shoes but not knowing how he knows to do these things.
Xander gave a nod to this statement. He still hadn't moved from his position at the headboard and his muscles were giving him grief over the strain. He moved slightly and kicked out knocking his pillow for the ghost. It sailed right through. He breathed a sigh of relief that died an early death as he caught the ghost grinning.
Trying to see if I can touch things. I can only do that through you. And only if you let me.
Remembering the fight and the training Xander slumped.
Xander heard a thump that told him his mother was on her way to wake him. His eyes widened at the thought of his mother finding him ready for school at this hour. The voice spoke up, as if in the same room.
*Boy, you are just after breaking into a facility guarded by the United States Army andyou are afraid of your mother finding you dressed for school.*
The ghost started to laugh as his mother came in.
"Alexander, it's time to.... Oh you're up."
Alyanna Harris was shocked to the core. Since he was a very young child it had taken everything short of violence to wake him up, especially if it was for school. It had changed slightly over the last few months with the arrival of that new girl Buffy. She smiled at the thought of young love. The smile dissappeared at the expression on Xander's face.
"What's wrong, honey?"
His head snapped up to look at her, the expression on his face of his surprise at seeing her. The surprise disappeared to be replaced by a flush at being caught still dressed in last night's clothes. Alyanna laughed and left the room.
"You better get changed for school."
Xander changed quickly. His mom had been too surprised to see him up to notice that he was wearing the army gear from last night. If the cops released the details about the theft at the base she might remember but it was doubtful.
Running downstairs and out the door Xander gave all the impression that he was enroute to classes. About five minutes later he doubled back and found the house empty and, more importantly, his arsenal untouched by parental hands. Taking his time, Xander unpacked each case and laid the contents out on the floor. It took half an hour just to do that but the result was very impressive. An M-16 with the attachable silencer and two dozen extra magazines, a Colt .45 also with extra magazines and an assortment of grenades, both high explosive and incendiary. Several boxes lay to one side, their contents unchecked for the moment.
Cleaning and loading the weapons took over an hour, the process unfamiliar for the most part but his hands moved to the command of the voice. With ease each part was freed from the packing grease and coated with the light gun oil. As each of the weapons moved through his hands Xander felt more and more at ease with what had to be done. The doorbell rang but he ignored it. The mission at hand was more important.
* * * * * * * * * *
It was lunchtime back at Sunnydale High and Giles was in the library tearing throughbooks to find the one he needed. Buffy wandered into the library with Willow in tow.
"Hey Giles. Any news on Xander?"
"What..? Oh yes..I wasn't able to find out anything about Xander or his whereabouts. Willow have you seen Mernalex's Book on Shadow's around. I need it for some research."
"You mean the one on possessions and soul swappin....."
Willow found herself half way to the floor when Buffy's hand grabbed her arm. The shock was evident on her face too. The Watcher talking about a powerful book of spells and Xander in the same sentence gave them an idea of the direction of Giles' thoughts. He walked up to them and took off his glasses.
"When did you first notice anything strange with Xander?"
"Yesterday morning when he beat up Larry. We just caught the end of the fight. Xander was by his locker...."
Buffy closed her eyes to help her remember what had happened. The smack of Larry hitting the floor had frozen eveyone in place as if time had stopped. Freezing the image in place she saw...
"He was dressed in the same clothes as last Halloween and he had a bag with him."
Giles started to pace about and mumble to himself. Buffy stamped her foot down on the floor to get his attention.
"Willow can you get the bag from Xander's locker please? Now."
Willow turned and left the library slowly, looking over her shoulder every few seconds. She knew that as soon as she was gone Giles would reveal to Buffy the full possible danger that Xander might have become. She hurried to the locker and opened it quickly. Every member of the Scooby Gang knew each others locker combination in the case of an emergency.
As the door opened the smell of burnt meat hit her making her gag. The bag was crumpled at the bottom of the locker, folded into itself with the lack of contents. She reached forward and pulled it free and began opening it slowly, afraid at what she would find. The locker door slammed shut and Willow shot backwards on her heels.
"Where is Harris?"
Willow looked up and then down. The sight of the principal didn't do anything to helpher. She began to stammer and got cut off by a wave of his hand.
"Don't try and make up any lies for him, Rosenberg. It won't help your entrance into college if they think you are a trouble maker like your 'friend' Miss Summers."
Willow was trapped and she knew it. Her genetic submission to authority figures kicked in and gave him an answer. After a couple of seconds of vowel sounds, of course.
"I haven't seen him since last night, Mr. Snyder."
Snyder glared at her in his patented troll-like evil-eye fashion. He didn't doubt for a second that the girl wasn't covering up for her friend but he knew that she was too cowed by him to lie. It didn't improve his temper much. He'd tried to get Harris for the fighting in the hall but a look at his file showed that one of his parents was a lawyer. Anyway he didn't like bullies.
"When you see Harris tell him he's mine?"
Giving Willow an evil smile Snyder moved off in search of another victim. Walking quickly Willow got back to the library. She through the bag down on the table and stepped back from it. Both Giles and Buffy followed this reaction and approached the bag slowly. Giles opened it fully and his hand shot forward.
Turning the small book over and over in his hand Giles brushed off imaginary dust and dirt. Buffy reached in to the bag and took out the small urn and shook it slightly while looking in. A small gleam of metal caught her eye. Taking it out she read the inscription on the medals.
"Harris, P. A. Giles, what is this doing here?"
Giles held his hand under the dog-tags and Buffy dropped them into it. He walked over to the table and held the tags under one of the lights, reading the inscriptions carefully. Taking up his recovered book and flipping through it he was oblivious to the mounting anxiety of Buffy and Willow. He started to read aloud.
"...and the supplicant must use a focal point about which the memories are based.... an expression of power, an expression of need... sacrifice..."
He slammed the book shut and reached into the urn. Smelling the residue from the bottom of the urn he could only guess at the sacrifice. He said so to the two girls.
"I wonder what the sacrifice was."
Both Willow and Buffy looked a little green at the prospect of Xander offering up a sacrifice. Giles put them at ease when he saw their expressions.
"The spell is a combination of voodoo and ancient pre-celtic Irish witchcraft. In mostof these types of spells the sacrifice was food, usually the food that would have been used at a feast."
Willow frowned at this and started to go through the bag again. She pulled out a cellophane wrapper and read out the sticker.
"Ma Langan's Choice Cuts: Veal Shank."
She held the wrapper up so they could read it. Buffy started to snicker at the thought of Xander burning food for any reason other than cooking. At least the gene for cooking that he had inherited from his mother wasn't going to waste.
Giles looked at the tags in his hand again and flicked through the book. He took Willow by the arm and gently guided her into the seat in front of the computer. Knowing that Giles wouldn't ask her to turn on the 'infernal contraption' without some serious research being needed. She switched it on and started to key in passwords and program names. When she was ready she gave Giles the nod. He spilled the dog-tags into her hand
"Find me him."
* * * * * * * * * *
There wasn't a lot to go on. All Willow could do for a couple of minutes was look at the tags and think about hacking into army files. The thought of Federal prison put paid to that. Then she remembered what Xander had said about his army gear.
"...I got this great stuff for the Army Surplus store..."
Taking that to mean the former owner of the tags was probably dead Wilow looked at obituaries. And hit paydirt.
"Phillipus Alexander Harris. Born February 1959 in Chicago to Michael and Susan Harris,both Irish immigrants. Joined the army aged eighteen like his father had in 1942 and served mostly in the 82nd Airborne, again like his father. Went to Special Warfare school and joined Delta. He got married ten years ago and had two girls."
Willow stopped reading the newpaper article out loud and kept scrolling down, just picking out the bare facts. She went white when she read the end of the article. Buffy bent down and finished it for Giles to hear.
"The community was shocked to hear of the death of the Harris family. Major Harris had received a transfer to a new posting to the hometown of his wife in California and had just arrived in Sunnydale when he and his family were brutally killed by a gang of unknown assailants."
Using the article as her baseline Willow did the usual dance of the hacker on the keyboard and accessed the Sunnydale Police Department database. In seconds she had the reason for the Harris family's deaths.
"They were all drained of blood and the man was savaged by a 'wild animal'."
She pulled up the autopsy pictures and blanched. The usual bite marks were present on the mother and two children but the father had a massive tear in his neck. Death had been almost instantaneous.
Giles ran his hand through his hair and leaned back against the stair banisters. After flicking through the book a twinky wrapper had neraly fallen out. Taking Xanders bookmark as a good sign Giles looked at the highlighted pages. It wasn't a good sign.
"The spell that I think Xander used was invoked by shamen and druids to learn the intentions of their enemies by accessing their memories and knowledge. The problem is that the spell is usually focused on a living persons memories because it was found that accessing the memories of the dead called the soul of that dead person into the druid."
"That's a possession isn't it. Head spinning, pea soup vomit and general bad hair day possession ttpe."
Giles knew that Buffy was trying to make light of the situation but he had to lay down the truth.
"No. This spell was originally used before a battle by Celtic druids who would attempt to gain the memories of the generals in the opposing army. The spell ceased to be of any real use when the generals the spells were focused on were killed. The druid who was using the spell would then be inhabited by the soul of the dead general. The spirit or soul would then be focused on one thing. Killing those responsible for his death"
"So your telling me that Xander, the guy voted Bully's Pummel Horse of Sunnydale High 1998-1999 is under the control of a highly trained soldier. Who is looking for a gang of people that killed him and is willing to do anything to do it?"
The Watcher nodded and ran his hand through his hair again for the twentieth time of the night.
"So what do I do?"
Buffy had to ask the question. She was the Slayer. She slew the things that went bump in the night and this qualified as one of them. The only problem was that her target for the evening was a friend and one who was hunting vampires. And she couldn't find anything wrong with that.
* * * * * * * * * *
It was only half past ten in the morning and the time when the town would shut down for the safety of all it's citizens. Well the living ones at least. And the ones that weren't hell bent on destroying the world, yadda yadda yadda. Xander did all he could to stifle the massive yawn that seemed to come back every few minutes. Part of his exhaustion came from the last minute nerves that he always had before a play like this. The other part was the amount of work that had finally gone into the last piece of this mission.
Xander had spent half of the morning cleaning his weapons and readying the devices that he would need. The worst part had been getting the van back from the alley he had stashed it in. After loading up the van with all his 'party gear' his nerves had hit an all time high when he had been driving through the streets towards the factory. It was one thing to be caught skipping class by the cops, it was another to be caught skipping class in a stolen van with enough artillery to level a small town.
One stop at a scrap yard, another at an abbatoir, an old fuel station and the hardware store took care of the majority of his. With the van fully loaded Xander cruised slowly into the industrial estate that held the vampires.
It was really spooky. Xander could remember that feeling with the greatest of ease. Even as he pulled into the estate he could feel the eyes on him from a hundred different directions. If he had come here only a month before Buffy had arrived on scene he would have just passed off this feeling as an attack of the wiggins but now he knew better.
He stopped just inside the entrance of the industrial park and jumped out. Taking a small plastic bag with him Xander stepped out and knelt behind the van. With care he took out three things and lay them on the ground. A foot long piece of wood was placed on the ground carefully parallel to the speed bump that protected the park.
The second item was trickier. The Claymore mine is defined as user friendly but couldn't be considered a toy. The old aluminium bombs were probably the last of their kind, the newer versions having plastic casing. Placing it gently on the lumber with the legend 'Front towards enemy' facing out towards the entrance Xander pushed the prongs on the mine firmly into the wood. With a glacial slowness Xander unreeled some of the detonator cord that was attached to the device and tied some string to the few feet that he could unreel. This second length was strung across the entrance. The third item was a can of flourescent purple spray paint. Wasting most of the can on fresh air, Xander painted the string, detonator cord and the mine. Only when he had finished did he arm the mine.
He repeated the operation again in two places, both in plain view and yet outside of the area that would be destroyed by the first mine. These two Claymores were not armed.
* * * * * * * * *
Vampires are an old race and they have had centuries to learn the best techniques of survival during the day. The first and most important is to stay alert and watch everyone. The phrase 'Trust no-one' popped into Xander's mind. He could picture a thousand different b-movie films where the vampires sleep in their coffins and the goodies would stake them.
The truth was a lot different.
He had stopped in what had been the entrance to a loading area for trucks delievering to the factory. Xander quickly offloaded the goods stolen from the armoury onto the ground away from any manholes. The rest of the stuff collected that morning stayed in the van. Keeping only one gun with him he drove the van forward towards the factory's main door. He made a gentle turn and stopped the vehicle only a couple of feet from the doors. Locking the van door nearest the entrance he slipped out the far side. He knew that he was at the right place.
Every few seconds the glimpse of movement could be seen in the darkness behind the rents on the door. The heavy animal growls of the younger vampires, driven by their hunger at the smell of nearby prey, kept whispering at the edges of his hearing. This was the dangerous part. If the young ones got out of control they might try to attack him even out in the sun. He could remember Giles saying that the urges of a vampire just after it has turned are purely primal. And the hunger of a vampire is lethal.
Pulling out the pistol, Xander worked the action and checked the round that was exposed in the chamber. Half satisfied that everything was all right he shot a hole in the steering column of the van, shattering it. Reaching into the mess that was left he yanked out a handful of wires wrecking any chance of moving the van.
`Now he had to get someones attention.
"Hey, Dead-Boy. How's it hangin'? I'd say not too well when you're a couple of hundred years old. By the way does it hurt when a complete loser like me shoots you? I'd say it does. I'd say what's even worse is the thought that I'm still breathing."
The door shook as something on the far side hit it hard. A voice unrecognisable by rage started to rant at him.
"You're dead. You're dead.You're dead."
The voice kept chanting it on and on. Other vampires started to take it up and it grew to a dull roar. Xander was spooked but he couldn't show it. He grinned as an idea formed. He knew that there was one force greater than all that could tick off a vampire. The grin got wider as he turned around and unbuckled his pants. Dropping them he mooned the vampires en masse for the
better part of a minute. The chant dissappeared to be replaced by an incoherant roar as he won the verbal war. Going back to the van he reached in quickly to the passenger side and pulled out a heavy plastic bag.
"Hey, Dead-Boy. Here's a little present to whet your appetite. Oh sorry I dropped it."
Throwing the bag down to the ground it burst apart spreading cow blood all over the ground. It spread quickly, a heavy coppery smell rising from it. Xander smiled as the door shook under repeated blows as the younger vampires started to loose control at the smell. He turned and walked off. He was sure the Angelus' rage was now registering on the super-nova range with the insults that he had piled on him. All the better.
The pile of gear at the front of the estate hadn't moved and Xander couldn't see anyone around. It took three trips in all to move the guns, explosives and few extra toys to a place out of sight of the entrance and in the sunlight. The next part had been nearly fatal for him. Taking one of the boxes Xander moved to a manhole and lifted the cover off with difficulty. Curiosity had caused him to look down and it was only the growl from a young vampire too
eager to stay quiet near prey that saved him. It took nearly ten minutes to stop the shaking from that episode.
Hooking up the battery pack to the greenhouse de-mister took longer than he thought but he still had plenty of time. Leaving a ten gallon supply of holy water connected to a hose, Xander had turned on the de-mister and listened to the screams of pain as the mist billowed out from the machine into the sewers. He knew that within minutes no vampire would be within fifty meters of this opening. He hooked up two more hoses and poisoned two more manholes.He hoped that Angelus wouldn't understand what he was doing until it was too late. It took another fifteen minutes before Xander was sure that the sewers in under the factory were flooded with the mist. Before long Angelus would only have one way in and out of the factory. A situation that Xander hoped would keep until just after dark.
Getting back to the remainder of his gear Xander suited up. He rechecked his guns and ammunition wrapping them up as each was done. He couldn't afford metal clanking on metal at any time until it was time. When each and every piece of his gear was ready he had climbed the short distance to his perch in sight of the van and it's precious cargo. Xander looked up at the sun. Now the daydreaming was over.
Time to light the fuckers up.
* * * * * * * * * *
When some bases got changed from active status to storage facilities some people had seen the opportunity to get rid of all the neato things that the boys in the super spiffy Pentagon uniforms had given them. This had included the old M-16's, the Colt .45's, the older type explosives devices and grenades. The Light Anti-Tank Weapon was a carry over from the eighties when a small disposable way of killing a tank was the new military breakthrough. The only problem was the best one could do to a modern tank would cause the tanks crew to break out their paint brushes to remove the scorch mark left by you. Not exactly the most promising weapon of destruction.
The Major, as Xander now called his friend, had 'changed' his uniform again. The starched and pressed clean dress uniform had been replaced by stained and very worn combet gear. Empty magazine pouches and canteen holders as well as an empty holster. As Xander picked up the rocket launcher the Major's hands flexed.
"Why don't you take over and fire?"
The ghost looked over at him and shook his head.
I tried. I can't because you're too hyped up.
Xander gave the Major an apologetic nod and aimed his rocket launcher at the van and fired.
* * * * * * * * * * *
The plan that Xander and the Major had come up with was simple. Drawing on Xander's knowledge of the enemy and the Major's tactical experience it had taken all of five minutes to arrive at the conclusion that anything short of a daylight attack was suicide. And another conclusion was that bait would be necessary.
The plan was to kill as many vampires as they could in one go. The blood would attract the demons even if they didn't want it to.
And it was working.
He could hear the vampires, probably the younger ones, beating away at the front door because of the spilt blood. They were about to get a response. The rocket's warhead pierced the thin aluminium of the van's side and impacted on the sheet of steel inside. The explosion shredded the four forty gallon drums of gasoline and the dead rockets exhaust set it alight. Confined in the tiny van the fuel swallowed all the oxygen inside in a fraction of a second and expanded beyond it's fragile limit's.
The van blew apart sending a plume of flame a hundred feet into the air. That was nothing compared what happened at ground level. The entire van shredded itself and the pieces shot out in all directions. The vampires, the few lucky ones, who were further inside the factory were sent flying back by the concussive force. The younger ones had been right beside the door overwhelmed in their desire to get at the blood. The initial blast and shrapnel cut most of them down, mixing their ashes with the filth and fuel that splashed down on the few survivors. They didn't last long either.
The factory itself, old and rusted with age caved in or was cut open by the blast. Sections of the roof dropped to the floor letting in the killer rays of the sun which burnt and killed vampires indescriminately. Other vampires driven by the fear of the moment dived back into the sewer that was their second home. Their screams and the burning mist that came up from their passage stopped anyone following.
Angelus ran. Smarter and older than the others he retreated to the more solid area of the factory with the tattered remnants of his force. Less than a tenth of his vampires had survived the onslaught. Smashing through the flimsy door and into the corridor that serviced the offices he split his few remaining survivors into groups each group taking an office.
The only thing to do now was wait. And react.
* * * * * * * * * *
The second that Xander had fired the LAW he had begun to stand up to see the results. The Major appeared at his side and screamed at him.
Get the fuck down.
Xander dived to the bottom of his hole just as the pressure wave hit. Gasping in pain Xanders ears popped as the weight of the air intensified to what felt like solid lead. Pieces of dirt and other crud rained down as the shrapnel tore chunks out of the ground around him.
And then it was over.
Get up and run to the side of the factory.
Xander picked up the few remaining pieces of his gear and took off. Moving wide around the fire. He could see that the majority of the fuel had sprayed away from the door but that the steel plate he had positioned in the van had directed a good part of it into the factory. He kept moving. The side of the factory was untouched for the most part. This section of the plant had held the offices for the secretarys and the foremen so they had been well insulated from
the noise of the factory floor.
Which also meant that the explosion wouldn't have harmed them. And that the vampires would have gone there as the last safe place they had to hide. Xander could feel the satisfaction coming from the presence that was guiding him.
Any animal, no matter how smart is still governed by fight or flight, boy. And if you cut down the choices an animal has it'll do what you want it to do. Plant the gear. And hurry up.
Xander knew the reason for the rush. The cops would be speeding towards the industrial park right now and even they could connect 'big explosion' with 'stolen military explosives'. Hopefully that might make them a little wary. He reached into the knapsack and pulled out his last four claymores. He put one pack into the holdall before carefully removing the detonator wires and placing them high on the outer wall. Xander moved away from the devices and connected each wire to a clapper detonator. And squeezed each of them shut.
* * * * * * * * * *
Angelus had plenty of time on his hands to think. The concept that the person causing this destruction to get at him and his had finally seeped in. So had a few other things. Like the fact that as soon as the doors had blown in Spike had been out of the wheelchair and running to safety with Dru before he could react.
It was a little too late to worry about that now. The only thing he could do was keep them separated for now and keep Spike away from his car. Angelus was sure that the first chance that Spike got he'd be gone with Dru.
"My Angel. The soldier is there."
Angel turned to where Dru was pointing. What little light there was in the room was coming from the boarded up window. Dim beams of light were coming through the cracks of the boards and Angelus realised that he was about to have a visitor. He strained his hearing and found the boy was nearly flat up against the outer wall. A second later and he was moving away rapidly. Angelus took that as his cue to leave. He had barely made the door when he remembered Dru. He grabbed the doorframe to stop his rush and just managed to catch a glimpse of Dru before the wall disappeared in a flash and rumble of an explosion.
The shockwave from the bomb blew him into the corridor where he smashed brutally against the far wall. Dazed from the beating he could only look on as the sunlight incinerated Dru in a heartbeat. She didn't even scream.
Scrambling back to the safety of another office he saw Spike run from another and stop just at the doorway he had come through. His face contorted into the demonic form and he screamed in mindless rage. He turned to look at Angelus and roared again.
Crouching slightly he moved to attack Angelus. He didn't get any further. The staccato beat of gunfire sounded and Spike was slammed sidways into the corridor wall. Huge holes appeared in the wall around him as misses tore chunks from them. Another blast cut into the fallen vampire and Angelus could only watch in disbelief as he crumbled to the ground, his offspring's body well and truly destroyed. Angelus screamed to the other vampires.
They streamed from the rooms to the damaged office. The gunner outside opened fire again cutting chunks out of the walls. Angelus looked on as the holes let in streams of sunlight and burned his vampires. The contorted in pain, not able to move with the searing agony that cut into them. Angelus could only watch on as a small egg shape flew into the corridor and detonate in a huge white flash.
Pushing further back into darkness of an unlit office, Angelus could only wait for Xander to come in.
* * * * * * * * * *
When the first explosion had been reported to the police it had taken all of three seconds for the station to empty. The Chief of Police called to the army base and requested that the Exlosive Ordinance Team be put on alert and if possible sent out to the site of the explosion. Before he could say another word a report of another blast came over the radio. And that the first unit that had arrived on scene had had to crash into a wall to avoid a minefield.
*A minefield. In Sunnydale. How the hell am I going to exlain this to the Mayor? *
* * * * * * * * * *
As the mines went off Xander's ears exploded in agony with the blast. But he could still hear the ghost.
Get into the factory. Fire at movement. Don't worry about any friendlies in there. There won't be any.
The dust cleared slightly as the shock from the blast cleared. A figure dressed in a black ballgown stood inside and didn't move as the sunlight set it alight. Xander's head shook in agony again as the voice added to his pain with it's screams of joy.
THE BITCH WHO KILLED MY WIFE. BURN. BURN. BURN.
The Major started to laugh insanely. Xander could barely hold the machine gun up from the amount ofpain that his muscles were giving him. The laughter stopped as another figure appeared in the office doorway. Xander recognised Spike in an instant but he could see that the vampire could only see the remains of his only love Drusilla. The voice screamed in his head again.
THE OTHER ONE. KILL HIM. KILL HIM. KILL HIM. KILL HIM.
Spike screamed and turned to someone inside the building. Xander hands moved quickly and the gun leapt into action peppering the vampire. The first few rounds of explosive ammunition hit the demon, forcing it to it's knees. Another blast dropped it to the ground and destroyed the walls around it.
Xander started to move forward but a shout stopped him.
It wasn't the voice this time. Xander shot away at the walls letting more sunlight into the room and the corridor beyond. He could hear the screams of rage and pain from the burning vampires as they were hit by the light.
Xander grabbed one of the six grenades he had with him and pulled the pin. Letting the lever fly he tossed the bomb into the corridor and moved back into the daylight. It blew out more of the office and tossed him to the ground. He could here the final choked screams of some of the vampires as they died by the fire or the sun. There were only a few of them left now. And Angelus. Xander and his voice were bopth in agreement. The vampire would let the others do the hard work. He would only be there for the final kill.
Getting up slowly Xander started back into the shattered factory. His leg was a lump of pain from the knee down from where a piece of wood from the grenade explosion had hit him. Limping slowly Xander knew that he had to wait, to slow his heartbeat and wait for Angelus to come to him. He still had some time. The sound of sirens had registered but there had been no explosion. So now the police would be taking their time checking every square inch between the entrance and the factory before moving in.
* * * * * * * * * *
Angelus waited inside. The time was passing slowly for the vampire. He had no way to measure the time, no heartbeats to count, neither his or the killer's. For the first time since he had lost his second soul Angelus was feeling the beginning of a panic. A clink of metal against metal brought him out of his deep thoughts.
*He's coming into my parlour.*
All he had to do was let him into arms reach. The time for playing with his food was over. He was just going to kill the little fucker. He listened for the heartbeat and waited for the smell of the fear.
* * * * * * * * * *
Xander bent at waist level and then moved painfully to his knees. glancing into the corridor below waist height he couldn't see much beyond a few feet into the corridor. This was the worst part of the plan that the voice and he had agreed on. Standing up Xander reached into a pocket and took out another grenade. He pulled the pin and walked forward slowly, grenade still in hand and the machine gun pointed forward in the other.
* * * * * * * * * *
Angelus heard the human before he could smell him. The hearing of the vampire could pick out the hesitation of a limp and the small rattle of a gun in shaking hands. Stepping out with all the demonic speed he could muster he smashed the gun out of the mortal's hands and slashed at his throat with a snarl.
* * * * * * * * * *
Xander's hand slammed against the plasterboard wall and last the last of his grip on the gun. The grenade still in hand Xander stepped back to throw it and that saved his life. Angelus' nails shot across his face opening his cheek from below the corner of his mouth to his ear. The sudden attack and the shock of the blow turned his full armed throw into a lob that ended only a few feet behind his attacker.
* * * * * * * * * *
The vampire grinned with his triumph. The scum that had dared to attack him was a crumpled pile on the ground. With a snarl of satisfaction he bent over the stunned boy and opened his mouth to feed. And the grenade blew.
* * * * * * * * * *
Xander came to a few seconds after the blast. The heat of the explosion had burnt him in half a dozen places from his waist downwards. But above his waist had been covered by the vampire.
Looking around and then behind him Xander saw the crumpled form of his final attacker. The full force of the blast had caught him across the back shattering his spine in a dozen places and opening up a thousand linked wounds. It would take a long time for him to heal. Time he didn't have. Xander crawled forward not trusting his feet and pulled the last surviving piece of military gear from it's holster. Placing the tip of the barrel against the vampires head Xander took a piece of wood and finished the 240 year old demon off.
Just as Xander saw the vampires face peel away and the skeleton begin to ossify he heard one word spoken by the Major.
As the vampires ashes hit the ground Xander heard the sirens approaching. Groggily getting to his feet Xander tottered outside and grabbed his knapsack. Taking the final mine he rigged the inside of the offices and his weapons for destruction. Moving into the still misty sewers he set off his last explosion and dissappeared.
* * * * * * * * * *
It took two hours for Xander to get back to his house. With the amount of patrol cars running around it was not the healthiest thing to be dressed in camo gear and smelling like you had bathed in cordite.
Looking at his watch Xander could barely believe that it was only midday. The running and the explosions and the ....everything ahd taken their toll. All he wanted to do now was sleep.
Using the few back alleys he could Xander got to his house and got rid of the last few signs of Action Xander. He showered twice, broke up the few weapons crates he had left and trashed the remnants of his army uniforms. It was just as he was closing the bin lid when he got the smell of perfume.
He turned to see Buffy and Willow looking at him.
The reaction he got from the girls was pretty much what he expected.
"What do you mean what's up? We found the spell book. We heard about the theft of the weapons. And we heard about the explosions at the factory. The news is saying that they had to remove a minefield and that counsiderable damage had been done to several of the buildings in the complex."
Xander could only grin at the news. It didn't go down well with his audience though.
"What are you smiling at? You could have been killed?"
Buffy stepped up to him and kept ranting on. Xander couldn't help but see Willow walking slowly around him, keeping a steady distance away from him. It was only when he saw the red heads lips moving that he cottoned on.
Moving quickly he jumped back just ahead of Buffy's attempt to grab and hold him. He knocked Willow down and saw a small bouquet of herbs fall from her hand. With the spell stopped he let Buffy grab his arm.
"You have to let us do this. Willow start again."
Xander shrugged Buffy off.
"He's gone. At least I haven't felt his presence since I left the factory this morning."
Willow completed the spell in less than a minute.
Willow grabbed a small book from her back pocket and read the spell again. She hadn't missed anything.
"I told you that I hadn't felt him since this morning. The last time I felt him was just after I killed ..."
Xander looked straight at Buffy. She got the message pretty clearly. Swinging her fist up she hit Xander once in the face,turned and ran off. She was gone before he hit the ground.
* * * * * * * * * * *
He came to a few seconds later, his head in Willow's lap. He looked up to see That his cushion's face was tear streaked. He only needed to ask one question.
"It wasn't that you killed Angelus. You killed any chance that she could have had Angel again. And she needed to be the one who made that decision."
Xander got up slowly and stared at the corner that The Slayer had gone around and tried to imagine the level of pain that she was going through at the moment. He couldn't. All the work that he had done to help was worth nothing with that last statement by Willow.
He walked into the house and shut the door.